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Buildings Housing Nigerian Embassies Becoming International Embarrassment -Auditor General

The office of the Auditor General of the Federation has said that most of the properties housing Nigerian missions overseas were becoming international embarrassment to Nigeria.

This according to the Auditor General is due to the deplorable conditions of the nation’s missions across the world calling for an immediate action on them.

This was contained in the report currently before the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts being chaired by Hon Woke Oke (PDP-Osun).

The 240-page audit report showed that some of the properties belonging to the various missions were being underutilised and decaying in the various countries, thereby bringing the nation’s image to disrepute.

The report indicated that the 22-storey Nigeria House in New York is fast deteriorating and underutilised while the Nigeria Embassy in Berlin was incurring huge bills, on an average of €50,000.00 (N8,750,000.00) annually on utility bills and additional expenses to secure a property in Bonn which the embassy has since vacated.

It further explained that the property in Bonn was used as the residence of the Nigeria Ambassador to Germany when the Mission was there (Bonn).

Since the relocation of the Mission to Berlin, the property remains unoccupied and is fast deteriorating.

According to the report, “the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York is housed at the Nigerian House which is situated at No. 828, Second Avenue, New York, USA.

“This building is a 22-storey building and it also houses the Nigerian Consulate-General, The National Boundary Commission of Nigeria and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

“The property, which is strategically located, just few blocks to United Nations Headquarters, is grossly underutilised. Meanwhile, the Mission expends heavily on the payment of utility bills and maintenance. In 2013, the mission expended the sum of N221,087,818.75. Despite this, the property is fast deteriorating.”

The report added that in view of the strategic location of the property and the fact that it is fast deteriorating and underutilised, the property should, as a matter of urgency, be comprehensively rehabilitated before it becomes an eyesore and constitute an embarrassment to the Federal Republic of Nigeria if ignored.

According to it, “after rehabilitation, the un-utilized space could be put up for rent. This will keep the property in good shape and also generate revenue to the Federal Government especially now that the sources of government revenue are fast dwindling.”

On the Nigerian embassy in Berlin, the Auditor General said “the Embassy has a property in Bonn which was used as the residence of the Ambassador when the Mission was there. Since the relocation of the Mission to Berlin, the property remains unoccupied and is fast deteriorating. Furthermore, the Embassy is incurring huge bills, on an average of €50,000.00 (N8,750,000.00) annually on utility bills and additional expenses to secure the property.

“If the Embassy cannot find an alternative use for the property, it should either be disposed-off or leased to generate revenue to the government instead of allowing it to deteriorate and at the same time wastefully expending huge sums on it.

“The Embassy of Nigeria, Berlin, Germany, expended the sum of €66.5 million (N11,637,500,000.00) on rent of accommodation for home-based staff in the year 2010. This amount is rather on the high side and in view of the economic reality the nation is facing, this trend cannot be sustained.

“In view of this, government should explore the outright purchase of properties. Alternatively, mortgage should be considered subject to availability of funds. This will put an end to the annual expenditure of this huge amount of €66.5 million (N11,637,500,000.00) on rent of residential accommodation.”

The report further said that the embassy has “eight members of home-based staff and the Ambassador. The eight members of home based staff were occupying eight units of rented residential houses.

“The Ambassador resides in a government-owned property, the Embassy occupies a government owned property in Berlin while another property at Bonn owned by government is presently unoccupied.”

Source: Tribuneonline

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